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Alternative & Indie - Released September 13, 2019 | Domino Recording Co

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
For his third Domino Records release and ninth album in total, lo-fi pop experimenter (Sandy) Alex G (Alex Giannascoli) presents House of Sugar. The multifaceted title is, for one, a reference to the SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia, which features in the album's closing track. It also refers to the Grimm fairy tale alluded to in "Gretel," and to the short story "The House Made of Sugar" by Silvina Ocampo, a supernatural tale rooted in superstition and deceit. The layered meanings of the title mirror the complex musical design of House of Sugar, Giannascoli's densest and most detail-oriented release to date. While 2017's Rocket saw the songwriter/GarageBand recordist working with an expanded guest list including touring bandmembers for the first time, House of Sugar involved recording collaborations on some songs with his mixer, Jacob Portrait, at Portrait's Brooklyn studio -- Giannascoli's first excursion to an outside studio. In addition to splurging on a new microphone and recording-software upgrade at home, Giannascoli has said that he worked more deliberately on this album, spending more time on fewer songs than ever before. House of Sugar's sound is more vivid and elaborate, as becomes apparent on the experimental opening track, "Walk Away." At over four minutes, it's the longest track on the record and arguably its least coherent; its suffocating, kitchen-sink approach includes rhythmically organized layers of irregular, circular vocals, guitars, booming drums, and much more. If intended to reset ears for increased demands, those demands are soon alleviated with the tuneful, melancholy pop of "Hope" and "Southern Sky." Even a song like "Hope," ultimately an acoustic rhythm guitar tune, holds added textures, however, among them multiple vocal tracks, strings, and spacey organ. House of Sugar gets increasingly otherworldly with the manipulated, child-like voices and ghostly, dissonant effects of "Gretel" and the meticulously trippy "Near." Later, processed, robotic vocals and bagpipe-like harmonic overtones mark the eerie noise experiments of the plodding "Sugar." An entry like "Sugar" is outnumbered by but adds weight to the lighter pop songs on the album, though "light" here is a relative term. As if to bring his audience back to Earth, the album closes with the spare "Crime" and wistful live track "SugarHouse," which ends with the lyrics: "Let 'em bury me in the sand/When our children go digging for answers/I hope they can put me together again." Intimate, theatrical, and strange, House of Sugar is designed to reward repeat listens, but like other (Sandy) Alex G sets, it's above all affecting. ~ Marcy Donelson
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 19, 2017 | Domino Recording Co

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
His eighth full-length overall, Rocket arrives after a period of increased exposure for bedroom recordist and longtime self-releaser Alex Giannascoli. Then going by Alex G, he made his label debut (DSU) in 2014, then signed with Domino Records, which released Beach Music, an album that landed on Billboard's Heatseekers chart and made some high-profile best-of-2015 lists. R&B superstar Frank Ocean then invited Giannascoli to play on his 2016 LPs Endless and Blond. After announcing a rebranding to (Sandy) Alex G a month before its release in May 2017, Rocket follows these career markers with a perhaps surprising return to the self-produced, home-recorded method that made his reputation. He has remarked, though, that the experience with Ocean made him more open to collaboration, and he's joined here by touring bandmembers, longtime guest vocalist Emily Yacina, singer/violinist Molly Germer, and more. What hasn't changed is Giannascoli's genre-sampling approach, distinctively loose and intimate sound, and melodic inclinations. The album opens with the sullen "Poison Root," which builds an acoustic clatter with guitar, banjo, piano, violin, and barking dogs while Giannascoli repeatedly mutters "Now I know everything." That sets up "Proud," a jaunty alt-country foot-tapper that's loaded with doublespeak like "I'm so proud of you/And everything that you do...I wanna be a fake like you/Walk around with rocks in my shoes." Later, "Sportstar" uses distorted vocals to portray a fan with an unhealthy obsession ("Let me wear your jersey/If you want to hurt me, hurt me"). Giannascoli has said that he wanted to populate the record with "characters that don’t know how crazy they are," and that instability is conspicuous early on. Stylistically, he takes on country again later with "Bobby," a duet with fiddle, guitars, and banjo. In contrast, "Brick" is a grungy punk tune, and "Witch" is a more keyboard-based psychedelic entry with mathy rhythms. There are a couple of instrumentals, too, including the experimental, dissonant "Horse." He's far from catering to the mainstream here, but through it all, the wistful chords and progressions that are such a trademark of his sound act as a sonic through-line. Also uniting the album are immediate, conversational vocals and, similarly, an impression that accompaniment is gathered in a circle playing along by ear. It all contributes to a recognizable sound that, despite having more players involved, sounds like (Sandy) Alex G in the way that one of his primary influences, Elliott Smith, always sounded like himself. It'll be interesting to see how much he does or doesn't change up his process over time, but in the meantime, Rocket will likely be a welcome return for fans of Beach Music and beyond. ~ Marcy Donelson
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 4, 2019 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 15, 2019 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 15, 2019 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 4, 2017 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 14, 2019 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 14, 2017 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 4, 2017 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 4, 2017 | Domino Recording Co

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